Community calls on Target to be leader in reviving Minnesota’s economy
26 February 2013
|MINNEAPOLIS - On the second day of the “Unlock Our Future” week of action, some 300 people descended on the Nicollet Mall headquarters of Target Corporation to call on the company to be a leader in helping Minnesota’s struggling economy. The rally occurred as retail cleaners at Target stores staged a one-day strike.
|Participants were mostly members of organizations for whom Target has been a common roadblock to economic security, fair hiring, better wages and working conditions for workers of color. Those attending said they were united in their belief that Target must make significant, but not necessarily costly, changes to improve economic stability across Minnesota.
Justin Terrell, Justice 4 All Program Manager for TakeAction Minnesota, announced the release of a new report on the Minnesota retailer’s hiring and employment practices.
“Target’s not living up to its image,” Terrell told the assembled crowd. “Our communities are suffering and we’re all here today because we expect Target to step up and be the leader Minnesota needs. As Minnesota’s fourth largest employer, today is an opportunity for Target to make changes and lead.”
The report, entitled “Expect More! How Target Chooses to Shortchange Minnesota’s Communities of Color” details concerns regarding Target’s treatment of people of color, immigrant workers and failures to deliver on promises made to local communities in exchange for millions in local tax revenue. It was prepared by the five primary organizers of Tuesday’s rally, including Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, Service Employees International Union Local 26, TakeAction Minnesota, ISAIAH and CTUL. A PDF of the report can be found here.
Speaker after speaker told the crowd that Target doesn’t live up to the community-minded image it projects. In particular, the company has not been the leader Minnesota needs to reduce racial jobs disparities in the state and ensure that workers are treated fairly and provided safe working conditions.
|Several organizations came together for a rally outside Target corporate headquarters Tuesday.
Participants in the rally said Target:
• Enables Minnesota’s “worst-in-the-nation” racial jobs gap by its refusal to interview or hire individuals with criminal records in their past, despite the fact the workers are qualified.
• Hires cleaning contractors at its stores who don’t respect the right of workers to organize and don’t pay living wages.
• Refuses to bargain with more than 2,000 security officers who have worked without a contract for two months and who want secure, good-paying jobs with benefits.
• Uses tax loopholes and corporate tax havens to avoid paying its fair share of tax revenue to the state of Minnesota.
• Doesn’t deliver on promises of local job creation despite taking more than $20 million in subsidies from Brooklyn Park.
Target CEO Greg Steinhafel makes $9,600 per hour while the people who clean the stores make only $9 an hour, said Harrison Bullard, a SEIU Local 26 security officer from Minneapolis.
Many of the retail cleaners belong to CTUL, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha / Center of Workers United in Struggle, which staged a one-day strike Tuesday.
“I’m here today to stand with CTUL cleaners , mostly immigrant workers, who are being treated unfairly and deserve to make more than poverty-level wages,” Bullard said. “And they have the same roadblock as the janitors and security officers from Local 26 – Target Corporation.”
Lucila Dominguez, a CTUL leader, spoke of her struggle in trying to earn a living and her ultimate decision to go on strike. “All of my co-workers face the same low wages and have a workload that is more than we can finish in the six hours we are given to clean a store. Our workload is too high. Our wages are too low. That’s why we have been organizing to improve our wages and working conditions. Now that we are organized, our employers have started threatening and retaliating against some workers.”
Minnetonka resident Kissy Mason, who recently filed a complaint against Target with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said she wants Target to step up and adopt the EEOC’s fair hiring practices so that those with a criminal record in their past aren’t automatically excluded from being interviewed or hired at Target.
“I was qualified but because of my record, Target rescinded the job offer they made me. I expect more of Target. I want them to adopt our fair hiring practices and give us a fair shot at employment. We’re ready to work.”
Brooklyn Park resident, Nelima Sitati, a member of the Northwest Community Collaborative, told the crowd that she believes Brooklyn Park is giving Target much more than it is giving back to the community – reneging on its promise of creating 1,000 new jobs for Brooklyn Park residents despite taking more than $20 million in public subsidies.
“I guess Target is good enough to take our money but we’re not good enough to be given their jobs,” she said.